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[83] other members of his staff. The beautiful Valley of Virginia everywhere gave evidence of the ravages of war. Throughout the march down the Valley the unsparing hand of Hunter was proclaimed by the charred ruins of the once beautiful and happy homes. At Lexington the cracked and tottering walls of the Virginia Military Institute, the pride of Virginia and the Alma Mater of many of the distinguished sons of the South, were seen, and near them appeared the blackened remains of the private residence of Governor Letcher. Mrs. Letcher, with an infant hardly a week old, had been moved from her bed to witness the destruction of her house.

These melancholy scenes are almost too sad to relate; nevertheless they are facts that must stand in eviendence of the cruelty with which the war was prosecuted by the North against the South.

When Early reached Winchester he learned that there was a Federal force at Harper's Ferry and another at Martinsburg, which it was necessary to dislodge before attempting the passage of the Potomac: and this was effected by the 4th of July without much opposition, the Federals having withdrawn without waiting an attack. The way being now clear, the passage of the Potomac was made on the 5th at Shepherdstown, and the army advanced to Sharpsburg.

Since the defeat of Hunter the advance of Early has been so rapid that his design to invade Maryland had not reached the Federal authorities in time to oppose his passage of the Potomac. But his entrance into Maryland being now known, it had produced great consternation as far as Baltimore and Washington. The boldness of this movement caused Early's forces to be greatly exaggerated, and rumor soon magnified it to four or five times its real strength.

The invasion was considered of such magnitude that the cities of Washington and Baltimore were thought to be in such imminent danger that the greatest alacrity was instituted in every direction to collect troops for the defence of those places.

The object of General Early being simply a diversion in favor of the operations about Richmond, he remained a day or two at Sharpsburg, in order that the impression created by his invasion might have time to produce its full effect before he exposed his weakness by a further advance. At this time all the troops in the vicinity of Washington had been collected, besides which a large numbers of quartermaster's employees had been improvised as soldiers, thus making the force at hand exceed twenty thousand men, while two corps from the army besieging Richmond, and a part of another corps from North Carolina, intended to reinforce that army, had been detached and put in rapid motion for the defence of the Capital.

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